SBE's BioReach Issue 02


Issue 02


Microscopic hidden world discovered on Leonardo da Vinci's drawings

Famous for his artwork and new technology ideas, Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings have uncovered a world invisible to the naked eye. The hidden world of these microbes could help in building a microbiome “catalogue” for artwork. Each piece has a collection of microbes unique to them. It could be based on the differences in the storage, the handling by art restorers and other reasons as well. These microbiomes could in the future, help detect forgeries or reveal enticing history behind the artwork. This is possible as the microbiomes have sufficient key elements that can help in identifying differences between the drawings.  The biological material found in seven of his drawings have a surprising diversity of fungi, bacteria and human DNA. It probably landed 501 years after his death, so most of it is from other people who have handled his work, not Da Vinci himself. Shockingly, fungi were not found to dominate his drawings, it was bacteria. A new tool called Nanopore quickly breaks down and analyzes genetic material. This new technique could uncover novel specifics in the history of well-studied artwork as well.


CRISPR Genome editing system effective in treating metastatic cancer

With the advancement in technology improved cancer responses with less toxicity have been achieved through immunotherapy and molecularly targeted inhibitors-based treatments but these traditional cancer therapies have high recurrence rate and  requires repeated administration of cancer drugs which in turn increases the treatment related toxicity thus deteriorating the patient quality of life. CRISPR cas9 gene editing system could overcome these limitations, improve the treatment efficacy and has the potential to destroy the tumor cells. Researchers at Tel Aviv University developed a new lipid nanoparticle-based delivery system  that can specifically target the cancer cells and destroy  them by genetic manipulation. A safe and efficient lipid nanoparticle is used to deliver the CRISPR to its target cells and the cas9 enzyme acts as molecular scissors that cuts the cancer cell’s DNA and permanently prevents their replication. There are no side effects associated with this method. Researchers showed that the survival rate of mice with glioblastoma tumors was increased to 30%  and the survival rate of mice with ovarian cancer was increased by 80% after a single treatment with CRISPR-LNPs. With this innovative treatment we can hope treating other rare genetic disorders and viral diseases like AIDS one day.


Superspreaders of Malaria: Children?

Malaria spreads from person to mosquito, then to person again. As it’s not person to person, the new study suggesting that children are asymptomatic spreaders of malaria is a cause of worry. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) on November 18th, a new study showed that even a small number of infected kids can transfer the parasites to a great number of mosquitoes, which then infect more humans. Therefore, even in places that have controls like insecticides, free tests and treatment, malaria could rapidly spread. From research in Uganda, it has been shown that  usually children between the ages of 5 and 15 were asymptomatic, and the main source of infection of local mosquitoes. In experiments conducted, where mosquitoes were fed blood samples from infected people, more than 60% could be traced back to only four asymptomatic children. These children never seemed to fall ill, but continued to live normally with those parasites. Although if malaria is controlled in regions, the efforts should never decrease. These children could be the cause of a comeback of the disease.

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Mystery Behind COVID Smell Loss

Around 80 percent of people infected with Corona Virus have a disturbance of smell or a disruption of taste. Smell loss has become so common, that researchers have recommended it to use it as a diagnostic test, as it may be more reliable. Earlier in the pandemic, physicians and researchers were worried that the virus makes its way into the brain, where it could cause severe damage. However, this is not the case says Sandeep Robert Datta, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School. According to him, the primary source of insult is in the nose, in the nasal epithelium. It attacks the support cells and stem cells, not the neurons directly. This does not mean that neurons are not affected at all. Olfactory neurons do not have angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors. This allow the virus to enter the cells. Sustentacular cells however, which support olfactory neurons in important ways, are studded with the receptors. These cells maintain the delicate balance of salt ions in the mucus that neurons depend on to send signals to the brain. If that balance is disrupted, it could lead to a shutdown of neuronal signaling and therefore of smell. 

Sarbajit Ray on behalf of SBE-VIT

Author & Editor

Hope you enjoyed the acticle, stay tuned for more such interesting articles and events from SBE-VIT!!


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